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'Blues rugby' won the day over Lions

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Lynn McConnell     08 Jun 2017     Getty Images

The most pleasing thing was that we played our game, our style," captain James Parsons said after his side's 22-16 win over the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park on Wednesday.

The Blues hooker even featured in his own moment of glory with a startling 50m run in wide open spaces when stealing the ball from a ruck.

But it was the effort of his big-time players, No.8 Steven Luatua, second five-eighths Sonny Bill Williams and wing Rieko Ioane that marked the difference in fortunes for the side.


Parsons said he was proud of the way the side worked in the last 10 minutes of the first half and it was a continuation of what he had been saying through the Investec Super Rugby season that the side was learning from its mistakes.

Parsons added that while Williams' try just before half-time might be termed fortunate, the side had worked their way into position to create the chance in the previous five or 10 minutes and that had been the most pleasing aspect for them.

"Then we had a blueprint that we wanted to come out in the second half, switching back on the short side and going out wide, shut their line speed down in playing that style of game.

"We're making sure we're learning from the mistakes we made in the past, and we adjusted and got the result," he said.

Coach Tana Umaga said the leadership in the side had been huge. Williams had been working his way back from 18 months out of the game and every week he was getting better and better. He was the type of player who had a hunger to play at the top level.

"It's got to be pleasing for the All Blacks and it gives them [the selectors] something to think about," he said.

Umaga said there was no more or less proud than what he had always been in his team but was pleased with the way they fought so hard to round out the win at the end of the game.

"They fought hard to the end to get the result we needed and we wanted," he said.

Rieko Ioane had been consistent on the left wing and was a special player for the side and they wanted to give him opportunities to show his skills.

"He's pretty special in what he can do, and we just try and give our players with those abilities the ball and space as much as we can," he said.


But they also looked to give Matt Duffie opportunities to use his skills in the air. He had taken some knocks but had been competitive.

Umaga said he didn't feel it had been a big call to give Stephen Perofeta his debut start in the game and the 50 minutes experience he gained at first five-eighths would help him in his career.

"We think he's going to have a long career in the game. He's only 19, turning 20. Even himself, he's still a bit shell-shocked that he's here and that he got to play against the Lions for that long. With his development, we're very happy with the way he's going and I think he did enough for us to show what he's got and that he's still got a bit to learn.

"There's not better way to gain experience than that kind of environment that he was in tonight," he said.